One doctor sounded a dire alarm before a Congressional Subcommittee: “We could lose one quarter of the world’s population before we gain control of this epidemic, even if we act swiftly now. If not, it may be more.” This physician cited WHO estimates of infections and said that if that rate continued one billion people could be infected in less than five years and, hypothetically speaking, ten billion could be infected within ten years. She went so far as to ask, “Could we be facing the threat of extinction during our lifetime?” A real doomsday prophet!
The Director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases fanned the flames of fear by saying it was possible that “routine close contact, as within a family household, can spread the disease.” He warned that “the scope of the syndrome may be enormous.” So much for using common sense and “waiting for the data” before making such statements!
The media poured gas on the fire and sought to scare people to death. One major magazine headline said that this “mysterious and deadly disease” may be “the public health threat of the century.” Another warned, “Now no one is safe.” Fear spread faster than the disease as nightly newscasts suggested that we were losing the battle against this new illness.
The disease I have just described is not COVID-19. It is AIDS. Forty years before COVID appeared, this killer disease was the talk of every town in every nation. People were concerned. Some went to extremes. But schools and businesses did not shut down. More importantly, churches did not stop meeting or quit serving communion. People lived their lives with caution but not in terror.
Some are too young to remember how the media sensationalized this disease and how powerful, greedy health officials used it for their own interests. But the surprising thing is that others who lived through the AIDS crisis forgot what they had learned when COVID arrived. They listened to the media in 2020 and panicked. Churches shut down and went online to be “safe.” Some of us asked from the beginning how far this overreaction would go. Now here we are two years later and churches are hurting because of their own decisions. They told people to stay at home to avoid the disease and they did. Now those elders and preachers can’t persuade those members to come back to church.
The level of control governments have exercised during this pandemic is alarming. But there may be a more serious repercussion. The fear that has been created in the minds of people, even Christian people, is now embedded in their thinking. Even if the government lifted every mandate and the media stopped talking about the virus, fear of this or some other disease or danger would keep some away from church.
Jesus died to deliver us from the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). As Christians, we don’t live carelessly, but we also refuse to be manipulated by worldly wisdom and live in fear. God bless churches and Christians who are standing strong. The Lord has blessed you and will bless you to the end.
-Kerry Duke, VP of Academics and Academic Affairs